Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer of the late Romantic period whose works are among the most popular music in the classical repertoire.
Tchaikovsky was the first Russian composer whose work achieved international recognition and he made appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States.
Although Tchaikovsky was musically gifted there was little opportunity for a musical career in Russia. He was initially educated for a career as a civil servant before entering the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, from which he graduated in 1865. The formal Western teaching he received here set him apart from his contemporaries, and he combined these influences with the more traditional music of his childhood forming a personal Russian style.
His most famous works include the music for the ballets The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.
Tchaikovsky was a prolific composer whose music is characterised by tuneful, openhearted melodies, impressive harmonies, and colourful, picturesque orchestration that evokes a profound emotional response.
Tchaikovsky could afford to resign from the Moscow Conservatory in 1878, thanks to the patronage of a wealthy widow named Nadezhda von Meck. She provided him with a monthly allowance until 1890; oddly, their arrangement stipulated that they would never meet.
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